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Phillies vs. Cardinals playoffs: In the Battle of Aces, Phils Have Winning Hand

A few Phillies fans hoped for the “easy” road in the first round of the playoffs, to lose one game to the Atlanta Braves and have Arizona as the first round opponent.

But it did not happen, as the Phillies avenged a season-record eight straight losses, to rip off four victories in a row, including a three-game sweep of the Atlanta Braves.

The Cardinals, on the other hand, trailed the Atlanta Braves by 10½ games on Aug. 25, and went 23-9 the rest of the way.

The Cardinals, while hot, were not as hot as the 2007 Colorado Rockies, which went 20-1 at the end of the season and made it all the way to the World Series before getting swept by the Boston Red Sox.

Still, the Cardinals have Chris Carpenter and Jamie Garcia as a solid one-two starters. The pair posted record of 11-9 (3.45 ERA) and 13-7 (3.56), respectively.

Carpenter, however, pitched the final game in Houston, and won’t be available until Game 3.

Former Phillies Kyle Lohse (14-8, 3.39) will take the ball for the Cardinals in Game One on Saturday, followed by Edwin Jackson (5-2).

Jackson, a mid-season acquisition as part of the Colby Rasmus trade, is 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA in his last 10 starts for the Cardinals.

The Phillies will counter with Roy Halladay (19-6, 2.35) and Cliff Lee (17-8, 2.40). Roy halladay

Carpenter gave up eight hits in eight shutout innings in a 5-0 victory in Philadelphia on Sept. 17. St. louis vs. phillies

The Phillies have big blopper Ryan Howard, who had 33 home runs and 116 RBI. The Cardinals have Albert Pujols, who had 37 home runs and 99 RBI.

Matt Holliday is injured and questionable to play, and Chase Utley, Shane Victorino, Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Ruiz are one play away from a short or long-term injury.

Hunter Pence was a needed shot in the Phillies’ arm late season, but so was Lance Berkman’s addition to the Cardinals.

On paper, it is a pretty even match-up, with the edge going slightly to the Phillies starting pitching.

But it is close.

But here is something to figure.

In the midst of the Phillies’ eight-game losing streak, the Phils had already clinched the NL East and home field advantage and were setting up their pitching rotation.

Lohse, with a better record than Carpenter, does not match up as well against the Phillies as Carpenter does.

Garcia is being saved to Busch Stadium, where his ERA is 2.55, as compared to 4.61 on the road.

I think Charlie won that chess match.

It should continue throughout the playoffs.

Phillies win Game 1 and 2, while Carpenter nails down Game 3 in St. Louis.

The Phillies will have a 2-1 lead by that point and the Cardinals hope that Garcia will tie the series in St. Louis to send the series back to Philadelphia.

In a playoff series of aces (Loshe and Jackson vs. Halladay and Lee) you are already starting with a losing hand.

The Cardinals best pitchers will not start until Games 3 and 4. 

The Cardinals are hoping to win in a five-game series.

The Phillies win the series in four.


** Writer's note: After writing this story, at the St. Louis Cardinal's press conference, Cards manager Tony LaRussa said that Chris Carpenter would start Game 2 and Jamie Garcia in Game 3. I guess he saw the same inbalance that I saw. It may extend the series to five games, but I still believe the Phillies will do what they have to in shorter time. So I am sticking with my prediction of Phillies in four games.



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